Gloria Estefan’s first English-language album targeted at the pop market since 2003′s Unwrapped, Miss Little Havana is the singer’s most energetic and youthful set in quite some time. Like 1998′s all-dance opus Gloria!, Havana gets its fuel from a searing lineup of rump-shaking ditties. Add to that formula deeper hooks and an contagious swarm of Latin and tropical influences, which are melded effortlessly into a funky club-pop potpourri courtesy of producer Pharrell Williams, and the result is even more infectious.
With a deeper tone to her delivery than previous efforts, Estefan approaches the new material with a renewed zest and vigor. Trumpets, trombones, and zinging Latin percussion provide the backdrop for her characteristically matter-of-fact yet engaging storytelling. The title cut finds her stylishly conveying Williams’ tale of a down-and-out teenager who survives by keeping her head in the clouds. Meanwhile, she coyly characterizes the restlessness of resisting the charms of a taken pursuer on “Make Me Say Yes.”
Room is made for only a couple of low-key moments, keeping the dancefloor momentum strong throughout with touches of disco, hip-hop, and salsa. Furthering that premise, Target stores’ exclusive CD edition includes a remix of the single “Wepa” featuring Pitbull; a remake of “Let’s Get Loud,” the 2000 hit which Estefan co-penned for Jennifer Lopez; and a vibrant reconstruction of Miami Sound Machine’s defining anthem, “Conga.” All in all, it’s a welcome return to the party that will likely please fans young and old.